As a result of an 11-day undercover operation, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has made allegations of abuse against a major US turkey hatchery.
The Willmar Poultry Company in Willmar, Minnesota is one of the largest hatcheries in the US and produces more than 30 million poults each year and delivers more than 600,000 a week to customers nationwide.
A HSUS video appears to show employees cutting the toes off poults before tossing them down a chute to a bloody conveyor belt. The video also shows an employee scooping up a handful of poults and tossing them into a bin, dropping some on the floor and leaving them there.
Willmar Poultry Company President Richard VanderSpek defended the company’s animal welfare practices and policies and said in a statement that the video depicted “the actions of some employees that violate the company’s animal welfare policies.”
“We condemn any mistreatment of the animals in our care and will take swift action to investigate and address these issues. Willmar Poultry will also review its policies, procedures, employee training and site monitoring to help ensure that our employees understand and follow company animal welfare policies and procedures,” VanderSpek added.
VanderSpek said the company was committed “to meeting or exceeding” industry standards for animal welfare practices and policies, including the National Turkey Federation’s Animal Care Guidelines.
“The No. 1 priority for our turkey industry is to provide the safest, highest quality products possible. Therefore, it is essential for the industry to ensure the well-being of the turkeys it raises. Whether it is on the farm or in the processing facility, the turkey industry acts responsibly in the raising, breeding, transporting and processing of all turkeys,” he said.